Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but girls know the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach. As the owner of Diamonds International and the UN Plaza Grill, Albert Gad has found the ultimate combination that makes his A-list clientele happy. Knowing that a strong leader in business has to stay ahead of the curve, Albert is often the first to spot opportunities in a market and finds ways to not just fill the void but to create unlimited potential for others. From a small store in St Thomas to 130 stores throughout the Caribbean, Mexico, and Alaska; Albert has guided his team to create a sustainable and scalable business that has become the number one jewelry and fine watch luxury retailer in the tax- and duty-free shopping world. This is no easy feat for any retailer but Diamonds International is so much more than a jewelry retailer. As a vertically integrated business, Diamonds International handles every step of a diamond’s journey after mining – something very unique in the diamond world. Albert explains his massive company in a succinct way “We are a vertically integrated company. We manufacture rough diamonds ourselves, design the jewelry and put our own diamonds into the jewelry. We opened our first store in St. Thomas in 1987. A lot of our business comes from the cruise ship industry and people staying on different islands on vacation. When you go shopping for diamonds or jewelry or watches and you enter one of our stores, you’ll see that we have something for everyone!” He makes it sound simple, but everyone knows – simple doesn’t mean it’s easy!
Making vacation memories through jewelry means having a strong team behind the leader to ensure success. Building his team, a person at a time, Albert looks for the right person for a role, even if they don’t know it at the time. The jewelry world has historically been a very male-dominated workplace, but Albert recognized the need to include women in key roles and to create opportunity paths to help break through the glass ceiling. Identifying strong women and giving them the experience, they need to grow in this challenging business has been one of the most noted characteristics of Diamonds International among its peers and competitors.
One sterling example of this is Tatiana Conte, Director of Strategic Business Development. After joining Diamonds International fresh from the Gemological Institute of America, Albert has mentored Tatiana from her entry-level gemologist role. “I was eager to learn and grow within the company and Albert saw that and recognized it. He quickly moved me around through various departments, from design to production to marketing and branding. He also allowed me to explore different aspects of business development within the company. To see a young woman be a part of top-level decision making at such a large company is not common, but that never mattered to Albert. I am so appreciative to work for a company and CEO like this one. Albert gave me the opportunity and the platform to grow, and it was up to me to execute everything and make it happen. For that, I am forever grateful.”
In pursuit of innovation, Albert not only invested early on into the concept of branding diamonds but wanted a diamond like no other. And he found in the Crown of Light diamond – a diamond like no other. You hear the pride in his voice when the conversation shifts to the Crown of Light “The Crown of Light is a round diamond featuring 90 facets with a domed top that stands out from other traditional round diamonds. It sparkles more than any other cut out there and our customers love it. In only 10 years, Crown of Light became the number one selling the diamond brand in any of our markets. “
Supplying the demand for Crown of Light is only achievable by the fact that Diamonds International is a De Beers sightholder, one of eighty companies in the world who are eligible to purchase rough diamonds directly from De Beers. This demand keeps their Director of Gemology, Cheryl Cook, very busy but she uses this energy to keep her motivated. She feels “empowered and inspired to work with so many women that are passionate about what they do.” From polishing the diamonds in factories in Namibia, Ukraine, and Canada, designing jewelry, setting the diamonds and selling them in the stores, each stage of a diamond’s journey is meticulously handled by the Diamonds International team. Whether you fall in love with the stackable rings or find the engagement diamond that seals the deal, there are many options that entrance the shoppers. In the rare moment that you don’t find a piece that suits you, you can create custom Crown of Light pieces that are unparalleled in sparkle and style.
With the focus on the final product and helping people celebrate life with diamonds, Albert’s team at Diamonds International work hard to achieve these moments of delight. “Working in DI is like finding a second family,” explained Carrie Lindsay, who does marketing and education for the company. “Each day brings new and very unique challenges, but the teamwork and collaboration help us overcome them. You never feel like it’s just you against the world. Whether you are in New York, Miami or the ports in the islands, there is always someone who is happy to learn from you and who you can learn something from as well.” When it comes to her boss, Carrie said that Albert always has his team’s best interests at heart and genuinely listens to their ideas. “He doesn’t say ‘no” right away but instead asks questions to get more information. If the proposal you suggested isn’t ideal, he helps you find a different way to look at it.”
Albert’s vision doesn’t stop with the jewelry world. When he saw a shuttered restaurant space near the United Nations Plaza combined with a lack of quality kosher restaurants nearby, he conceptualized a space where people could gather over the unifying power of great food. The UN Plaza Grill, with its dramatic décor and delectable dishes, has become a favorite spot amongst locals, celebrities and visiting politicians from prime ministers to presidents. Some prefer the glamour of the main dining room with a mural of hand-painted tigers and luminous lightshade installations, some prefer the intimate booths in quieter rooms, but many have enjoyed the ability to rent private spaces throughout the restaurant for anniversary, birthday and company parties. The restaurant is also popular for hosting Sheva Brachot, Jewish post-wedding celebrations.
Albert acknowledges that the restaurant business can be tough, especially with adherence and respect to Jewish holidays and Shabbat, which means they remain closed some Fridays and Saturdays. But just like with diamonds, Albert knows luxury is the key to his success with quality food and elegant ambiance. “We’re very high- end,” explained Albert. “We wanted to create something that gives the kosher community a place to go. We continuously cater to our clientele. The food is top-notch. Even people who don’t necessarily eat kosher come and are blown away, they can’t believe it’s kosher. Our award-winning chef used to work for Prime Grill. Diners can even take a peek at some dazzling diamonds from Diamonds International in between courses – after all, who doesn’t want some diamonds with their dessert!” And what desserts they are, all created by the award-winning pastry chef, Felencia Darius.
From mentoring his employees to making a difference in the world, Albert always finds time for others. Chanie Chriqui, the office director at the New York corporate office of Diamonds International, said that “Mr. Albert Gad has given me a great amount of experience and many opportunities. Just a few weeks ago we were raising money to help the Bahamian children after Hurricane Dorian struck. It was amazing to see how people contributed whatever they could to help our DI family across the seas. Being able to do these small acts of kindness is what really makes me feel empowered and proud to be part of this company.”
With a team like this and more for both his diamonds and desserts, Albert has learned the recipe to living the sweet life!